Re[2]: technical background

Subject: Re[2]: technical background
From: powen -at- MAIL -dot- LMI -dot- ORG
Date: Fri, 22 Sep 1995 13:25:56 EST

Steve Jong says:

> Pam Owen <powen -at- MAIL2 -dot- LMI -dot- ORG> responded to my assertion about the need for
> technical communicators to be knowledgeable about their subject matter by
> disagreeing with a choice I did not make. I did not say that I preferred a
> technoweenie engineer to document a product instead of an unknowledgeable
> tech writer; I said that I preferred a knowledgeable tech writer to document
> a product instead of an unknowledgeable one.

Sorry if I misconstrued your post, Steve. Of course I would agree that, in the
best of all possible worlds, a technical writer who has become knowledgable
about a subject would in most cases be preferable to one who is not.
Unfortunately, in my experience, most clients don't understand how important the
"writer" part is and ask engineers to do the writing instead of hiring good
writers who either have the technical background or can be trained in the
subject. I've found few subjects on which I can't come up to speed on quickly,
given the right support (in the form of making subject-matter experts and
references available). However, the more time I'm given, the better I'll get at
writing about that subject; so, experience or education on the subject is
invaluable. On the other hand, the engineers I've met who are forced to be
writers never seem to get up to speed on my subject - English - nor do they seem
to care in most cases. So I guess the trick for employers/clients is to be sure
they're hiring a writer, with the appropriate technical background, to write and
that they're using the technoweenies to design the thingamajig and to serve as
subject matter experts, not writers. :~]

Pam Owen
Nighthawk Communications
Reston, Virginia
Nighthawk1 -at- aol -dot- com, or powen -at- lmi -dot- org

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